Hostilities in Aleppo have un-ceased

syrian_civil_war
The Syrian Civil War as of May 1 (Wikimedia | Gurnotron and Spesh531)

When last we checked in, America and Russia were scrambling to salvage a Syrian ceasefire that was beginning to look more like an aspiration than a reality. And they just succeeded! Except…

The Syrian government has called local truces near Damascus and in the northern province of Latakia but has excluded the main battlefield in Aleppo.

Yes, Bashar al-Assad’s government agreed to stop fighting everywhere except in the place where most of the fighting has been going on. Instead of playing around with semantics about which rebel groups are or are not eligible to be attacked (although Russia is still doing that, to nobody’s surprise), Assad decided that all of Aleppo should be fair game. And even in Latakia and around Damascus, the truces were only supposed to last a couple of days, so fighting in those places could resume any time now if it hasn’t already.

But Aleppo remains the epicenter of most recent fighting, and therefore of most of the recent human suffering caused by the war. Assad’s forces have been pounding the city from the air, indiscriminately unless you think reports of schools and hospitals being bombed from the air are all anti-Assad propaganda, in some of the worst violence of what has been an extremely violent war. They are undoubtedly looking to take the city, which gets easier the emptier it is, so these strikes are intended to kill as many people as possible and make refugees of the survivors. A number of Free Syrian Army-affiliated rebel groups have “vowed revenge” for these attacks, which means the obstacles to restarting peace talks in Geneva have gone from formidable to possibly insurmountable.

The humanitarian situation in Aleppo, already dire, has gotten even worse. Diplomats, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, are reportedly working hard to make a ceasefire agreement for Aleppo. Moscow claims to be working toward the same end even as it insists that Assad’s airstrikes have been targeting rebel factions outside the terms of the ceasefire (I have to admit, I didn’t realize that Jabhat al-Nusra has pediatricians on staff). There’s every reason to doubt their ability to deliver; Assad has shown no willingness to be managed by Russia (or Iran for that matter) even though their aid has been the only thing that’s kept him alive and in power, and it’s not even clear that rebel fighters are answering to their supposed political leaders in Geneva and Istanbul, let alone to the United States.

Author: DWD

writer, blogger, lover, fighter

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